Does Aloe Vera Help Acne?

Are you looking for a natural way to treat your acne without having to resort to prescription medication or harsh chemicals? Does your skin feel irritated and inflamed from all the chemicals in traditional skin treatments? Wondering if aloe vera can clear acne breakouts and heal scarring?

As a natural ingredient, aloe vera can assist in the healing process of the skin while minimizing the adverse effects that are normally seen with other forms of treatment. In this article we will explore how aloe vera effects the skin barrier, if it is a suitable treatment for acne, and other natural alternatives to clear your skin.

The Basics of Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a succulent plant that has been used for centuries to treat various skin conditions. The plant is native to Africa but can now be found in tropical climates worldwide. Due to its widespread popularity, it’s now cultivated on a larger scale, and the gel from the plant’s leaves is harvested for use in various commercial products.

Its therapeutic properties are attributed to the fact that it contains a range of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Aloe vera is also rich in compounds like polysaccharides and glycoproteins, which have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. This makes aloe a great candidate for treating open acne wounds.

Other active ingredients in aloe vera include salicylates, which have acne-fighting properties, and lupeol, which can help to reduce inflammation. Both of these compounds can help to soothe the skin and promote healing.

How Can Aloe Vera Help with Acne?

While aloe vera can’t completely cure acne, it is effective in managing some of the symptoms associated with the condition. Thanks to its healing properties, it has the ability to:

Reduce Inflammation

When the skin is inflamed, it’s more susceptible to developing acne. This can be a direct result of numerous factors like excess bacteria, build-up of dead skin cells, and exposure to the elements. It may manifest as redness, swelling, and tenderness of the skin.

Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to soothe the skin and help manage the symptoms of various inflammatory skin conditions, including acne. The plant’s gel contains a compound called gibberellin, which is known to help with redness and pimples.

Minimize Scar Formation

Acne can often lead to scars and uneven skin texture throughout the affected area. This happens when the inflammation associated with acne causes the breakdown of collagen, which leads to the formation of scars. The less collagen produced, the more likely it is for scars to form.

Aloe vera may help promote the production of collagen, which can, in turn, minimize the formation of scars. The plant’s gel contains compounds like vitamin C and E, as well as other antioxidants known to stimulate collagen production. Skin serums and creams that contain these compounds are often used to fade the appearance of scars and improve skin texture. However, thoroughly check the ingredients as many of these products contain comedogenic products that can worsen acne.

Control Sebum Production

Sebum is an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. Sebum oil contains triglycerides, wax esters, and free fatty acids. When sebum oil is overproduced, it can mix with dead skin cells and block the pores. This can lead to blackheads, whiteheads, and eventually, cystic acne breakouts.

To help control sebum production, aloe vera can be used as a natural astringent. This means it helps cleanse the pores and remove excess oil from the skin without stripping it of its natural moisture. If it’s used regularly, it may keep the pores clear and help to prevent the formation of pimples.

Assist Acne-Treating Medication

When used in combination with other acne treatments, aloe vera can help to improve the efficacy of the medication. This is largely because aloe has antimicrobial properties, which help kill the bacteria that cause or worsen acne.

It also can penetrate the skin and help deliver active ingredients deep into the dermis. This process, it can help to increase the absorption of the acne-treating medication and improve its overall efficacy.

Be careful not to use too much aloe vera gel, as this can increase the risk of skin irritation. If you’re using other acne treatments, it’s best to layer the products and allow each one to dry before applying the next. 

Manage Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is a condition where patches of skin become darker than the surrounding area. It can result from sun damage, inflammation, or other conditions. It’s not necessarily harmful but can be a cosmetic concern for many people.

Though the use of tinted creams and make-up can help to cover up the affected areas, aloe vera may also be effective in managing hyperpigmentation from the inside out. The plant’s gel contains compounds like aloin and emodin, which have been shown to help lighten the skin. 

Though the uneven skin tone associated with hyperpigmentation can take some time to fade, regular use of aloe vera can speed up the healing process. Sometimes, visible results can be seen in as little as two weeks.

When using aloe vera for hyperpigmentation, it’s important to apply it to the affected area only. This will help to prevent further irritation and skin lightening of the surrounding area.

How to Use Aloe Vera

There are numerous ways that you can use aloe vera to help manage your acne. Using it topically is often the most effective method, as it allows the plant’s gel to be directly applied to the skin.

If you have an aloe vera plant at home, you can simply cut off a leaf and extract the gel from the inside. Once you have the gel, apply it directly to the affected area and leave it on for about 20 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water.

You can also purchase aloe vera-based cleansers and creams from the store. When using these products, read the label carefully to ensure that they don’t contain any ingredients that could potentially irritate your skin. Fragrance-free and non-comedogenic products are often the best options for people with acne-prone skin.

Make sure to avoid physical scrubs, regardless of their ingredients, as they can further irritate the skin and cause microtears. Using a chemical peeling gel or AHA/BHA toner can be a gentler way to exfoliate the skin without causing any irritation. But even then, use these products no more than 2-3 times a week to avoid over-exfoliating the skin.

When using aloe vera for acne, it’s important to start slowly and see how your skin reacts. Do a patch test on a small skin area first to see if you experience any irritation. If you don’t, you can gradually increase the frequency and duration of your applications. The goal is to find a balance that works for you, without disturbing your skin’s natural barrier function.

It’s also important to remember that aloe vera alone is unlikely to completely clear your acne. In most cases, it’s best used with other acne treatments, such as Benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or retinoids. Be sure to speak with a dermatologist about the best way to incorporate aloe vera into your overall acne treatment plan.

In any case, aloe vera is a versatile and effective natural remedy that can be used to help manage breakouts. By incorporating it into your regular skincare routine, you may see a noticeable improvement in your skin’s appearance over time.

Originally Published: August 24, 2022

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood

Hi, I’m Sam Wood, the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach at GoodGlow, as well as a best-selling author for one of the top acne books on Amazon. I struggled with acne for over 10 years, and began studying the effects of diet on skin quality while pursuing a degree in Nutrition Sciences at the University of Missouri. After shifting from mainstream skincare trends to in-depth research in medical journals, I experienced significant personal success in managing my acne. This inspired me to start GoodGlow, where I simplify complex scientific findings into easy-to-understand advice. With over 10 years in the field, I’ve helped more than 2,500 people achieve clearer skin through natural, holistic methods, and I’m dedicated to personally assisting those seeking guidance on their acne journey.

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